The Most Commonly Tested MCAT Concepts

MCAT concepts - image by Magoosh
A theme that you will often encounter on your journey to (and throughout) medical school is the overwhelming volume of information you’re required to learn. Time and time again, you will hear medical students and premeds alike comment that it’s not necessarily the complexity of the material that you’re required to know, but the sheer volume that makes everything so challenging.

To contend with such high volume requirements, the term “high yield” has become a staple in the premedical/medical student’s vocabulary. It’s helpful to know which topics from a lecture are high yield, but it’s just as important to know the most commonly tested MCAT concepts before you take the test.

If I Focus on the Most Commonly Tested MCAT Concepts, Will That Be Enough for a High Score?

My advice to students studying for the MCAT would be to make sure that you absolutely know the most commonly tested MCAT topics, but to give yourself enough time to become proficient in the other lower-yield topics. Setting up an effective study schedule (like the ones found in our free study plans) will ensure that nothing is a surprise come test day and that you’re adequately prepared for whatever the MCAT throws at you.

However, if time is an issue, and you simply must condense your study time, the high-yield topics are what you want to master. It’s important to note, however, that the actual content of your MCAT exam is unpredictable. For example, I spent a lot of time studying optics and when I got to my exam, it seemed like there were no optics questions. Because I had spent so much time on optics, I was definitely caught off guard and my reaction was reflected in my MCAT score. That’s not to say that the MCAT will test you on topics you’ve never seen before, because if you take the time to prepare, that won’t happen. However, that goes to show that it is important to follow the AAMC content outlines as a checklist to keep track of your studying.

So, without further ado…

The Most Commonly Tested MCAT Concepts

Click on the links below to access our free Magoosh lessons or articles about each concept.


General Chemistry

  • Acid/base chemistry (equilibria, ions in solutions, and solubility)
  • The Periodic Table (classification of elements and variations of chemical properties)
  • Electrochemistry
  • Principles of Bioenergetics

Organic Chemistry

  • Functional Groups
  • Lipids
  • Covalent Bond
  • Separations and Purifications
  • Molecular Structure and Absorption Spectra


  • Transmission of genetic information from the gene to the protein
  • Comparing and contrasting prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells
  • Plasma Membrane
  • Mendelian concepts
  • Endocrine System
  • Excretory system
  • Biosignaling



  • Emotion
  • Attributing Behavior To Persons or Situations

Additional Resources

Now that you know the most commonly tested MCAT concepts, what are you waiting for? Hit the books! Check out some of our favorite resources below to get started:

Best of luck with your studying 🙂

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  • April

    April is a newly accepted medical student who is passionate about passing the torch to up-and-coming pre-meds who are navigating the MCAT and med school admissions. She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Clark Atlanta University and master’s degree in interdisciplinary health sciences from Drexel University College of Medicine. She loves magazines, audiobooks, kid and teen TV, and everything beauty!